Proponents of mobile home rent ‘carveout’ in Huntington Beach could be running out of time

Bob Harold and Suzan Neil, in red shirts, attended Tuesday night's City Council meeting to share their concerns.
Bob Harold and Suzan Neil, in red shirts and residents of the Skandia Mobile Country Club, attended Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to share their concerns the city is not putting a possible ballot measure for a mobile home rent stabilization ordinance (RSO).
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

They have been showing up at Huntington Beach City Council meetings for months now, wearing red S.O.S. “Save Our Seniors” T-shirts and speaking during public comments.

And they are getting more frustrated as they feel that the council is not addressing their concerns.

Dozens of members of the Huntington Beach Mobile Home Resident Coalition held a demonstration at the corner of Yorktown Avenue and Main Street on Tuesday afternoon, prior to the City Council meeting.


They again spoke during public comments. But the City Council still has not indicated it will seek to place a carve-out on the November ballot for a rent stabilization ordinance (RSO) for mobile home parks.

The group, spearheaded by Skandia HOA President Carol Rohr, got a victory on April 25 when the Mobile Home Advisory Board voted 5-4 to recommend that the council bring a carveout to Section 803 of the City Charter to the voters.

Since then, crickets, Rohr said.

Huntington Beach voters passed Measure EE in 2002, prohibiting RSOs, but the seniors want an exception made in the case of mobile home parks. However, they appear to be running out of time to get something on the November ballot.

“We’re running out of time, but we’re not giving up,” Rohr said. “We’re going to continue to write letters and emails and speak at City Council meetings to try to get some kind of help from them, you know, in any way. We had one meeting with [Mayor] Barbara [Delgleize and Councilwomen] Kim Carr and Natalie Moser about two months ago, and that’s all we’ve had in any way. They haven’t done anything from there.”

Investment Property Group (IPG) bought the 167-unit Skandia property from the Coulter Family Trust last August. IPG raised residents’ space rents $75 a month each year for the next three years and raised the space rents of new home buyers to $2,195 per month.

Though the increases may seem reasonable, many of the seniors are on fixed incomes, and they also have to pay for expenses related to upkeep on their mobile homes on top of the cost of renting the space for them.

IPG president of property management Julie Rodriguez said during a February City Council meeting that the rent increases were necessitated by higher property taxes.

Mayor Barbara Delgleize reacts to the crowd and calls for order during Tuesday night's Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Skandia residents aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. Lourdes Leis lives at the Huntington Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park and was recently told that her rent would be going up 8.5%.

“Every year, they can do whatever the hell they want,” Leis said. “And having a lease means nothing, because they only protect themselves on the lease. They say the minimum [rent increase] is 4%, which leaves them open to 8.5, 10, 12. There’s no security in the lease.”

Allison Plum, who lives at Del Mar Estates, is a member of the Mobile Home Advisory Board who voted that the City Council should put the carveout on the ballot. She said her park is family-owned and the owner is fair, “but things can change overnight.”

Plum said she has emailed council members in an attempt to set up a study session and bring in RSO experts. She got a call from Delgleize on Tuesday, she said, but has been overall not satisfied with the response.

“A lot of the City Council members are terming out or leaving, and I think there’s that transition going on where we’re falling through the cracks,” Plum said. “I’m not liking it one bit, but we’re not giving up. We’re here for the long haul ... The only optimism I have is that some of the people that are running for City Council in November have mobile home connections. For once, we might have some little people on the City Council that understand.”

Delgleize said in a phone interview Wednesday that she is sympathetic to the seniors. As a Realtor, she’s very aware of rents going up.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” she said. “The people are not happy, but they’re also not stupid. Carol’s got a plan, and I think that at this point, it’s to be as disruptive as possible. I don’t blame her. I’m honestly thinking, ‘What would I do if I were a resident in that community?’ They’re following their plan very well.”

Still, Delgleize said, she doesn’t see rent control being instituted. She said building more affordable senior housing, like the Jamboree-backed complex that had a groundbreaking last week, should remain a priority.

“I don’t think they have seven votes [to put a carve-out on the ballot],” Delgleize said. “I haven’t been able to dig down with every individual to find out what we can do ... [but] there’s already a construct out there [of] no rent control. You can have the investors and the people who own the parks come down on you too. You have both sides.”

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